June 13, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and members of the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense, applauded the introduction of a new bill, House Bill 222, which creates a process for obtaining an Lethal Violence Protective Order that temporarily prohibits a person who is in danger of hurting themselves or others from possessing a firearm.
Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions:
“Families need an effective way to protect their loved ones and keep guns out of their hands if they notice they’re struggling. This bill closes the lethal loophole in Delaware law that makes it difficult for families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent access to firearms for at-risk individuals. We applaud Representative David Bentz and the Delaware Legislature for introducing this lifesaving legislation and urge the Delaware House to make Delaware a safer place to live by passing this bill.”
Liane Sorenson, Member of the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense, Former State Senator and Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund.
“I was proud to serve as a Republican in the Delaware State Senate and I’ve been working to protect the safety of Delawareans for over two decades. Individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis should have better access to world-class treatment, not firearms. This reasonable proposal will help families keep guns out of the hands of a loved one in crisis and will save lives. I urge my former colleagues in the Delaware Legislature to pass this responsible, life-saving bill.”
Will Smith, Retired Delaware State Trooper and Member of the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense:
“As a former Delaware State Trooper, I responded to situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis where I was able to negotiate their apprehension and subsequent transportation to a medical facility. However, these incidents could have ended tragically for the individual and myself as a result of this loophole. Make no mistake about it: The gaps in our laws are one reason why we have so many guns tragedies in our community. This reasonable proposal will not only help law enforcement keep guns out of dangerous hands, it will help save Delawareans from gun violence.”
Jayshree Tailor, M.D., Internal Medicine:
“Suicide researchers have found that the decision to commit suicide is often spontaneous, and if accessible, guns are the most lethal and common way to commit suicide. People who are experiencing a severe mental health crisis desperately need our care, not a firearm. I applaud the Delaware Legislature for introducing this life-saving bill.”
About the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense
The coalition is made up of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials, and community advocates. The coalition focuses on commonsense solutions that will help make Delaware families safer from gun violence, such as preventing people experiencing a mental health crisis from temporarily accessing guns by providing clear processes for families and law enforcement to ensure that person can’t get their hands on a gun. Learn more about the coalition here.
About The Lethal Violence Protection Order
The Lethal Violence Protection Order (LVPO), also know as a “gun violence protection order,” is a civil court order issued by a judge upon consideration of evidence provided by a family member or law enforcement officer that temporarily prohibits a person in crisis from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition.
An LVPO fills this gap by creating a mechanism for family and household members to temporarily prevent access to guns by individuals who pose an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others. A common thread in many shootings is that family members of the shooters had noticed their loved ones engaging in dangerous behaviors and were concerned about their risk of harming themselves or others – even before any violence occurred. This law can save lives while ensuring critical legal protections for respondents, just as it has in states that have already taken this responsible step.
The LVPO is based on the long-standing infrastructure and procedure of domestic violence protection orders (in place in all 50 states) and involves both a court hearing and clearly defined due process protections. Qualifying petitioners, such as family and household members or law enforcement officers, would be able to petition the civil court in their jurisdiction for an LVPO based on evidence they present through a written application and at a hearing before a judge.
The bill provides an opportunity for respondents to present evidence to show they are not a danger to themselves or others, and an LVPO is not necessary. If a court issues an LVPO, respondents would still be able to petition once for termination of the order and be eligible to have their firearms and ammunition returned upon expiration of the order.
Several states have already enacted this life-saving legislation. California enacted this life-saving law in 2014, and Washington voters overwhelmingly passed it in November 2016. Connecticut and Indiana have similar versions that allow law enforcement officers to intervene when people are in crisis and have easy access to guns. In the first 14 years of the implementation of Connecticut’s law, it is estimated that between 38-76 lives were saved as a result of risk-warrants. In addition, nearly one third of respondents received critical mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the intervention.
The LVPO is a particularly important tool to help prevent suicides. Those in a suicidal crisis are much more likely to survive if they do not have easy access to firearms for the duration of the crisis. Research shows that people are more likely to die by suicide if they have easy access to firearms. Eighty-five percent of suicide attempts involving firearms are fatal. Nine out of 10 peoplewho survive a suicide attempt do not die by suicide at a later date. These facts demonstrate that the LVPO, which can prevent suicidal individuals from accessing guns during a crisis, will likely save lives.